HMP Whatton wins RHS prison trophy

A Nottinghamshire prison has won the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Windlesham Trophy for the best prison garden in England and Wales.

HMP Whatton, a Category C facility, won the award for a record seventh time, making it the most successful prison in the competition’s 31 year history. Whatton last lifted the trophy in 2013.

Royal Horticultural president Sir Nicholas Bacon presented the trophy, an engraved Green Goddess’ fire engine bell, to Whatton prisoners and staff during a ceremony at the prison on 3 September 2015. Chief executive of the National Offenders Management Service Michael Spur presented individual commendations to staff from prisons across the country in recognition of their horticultural achievement.

Competition judge Robert Haslam praised HMP Whatton for its expert use of colour, a skill that saw it edge ahead of runner-up Parc (G4S), the first privately run prison to reach the final stages of the competition, Maidstone prison (third) and fourth placed Albany prison on the Isle of Wight.

Wildlife and environmental considerations were incorporated into the 30 acre garden at Whatton that has mixed borders of Begonias, Cleome, Miscanthus, Nicotiana, Stipa and Phormium. A star shaped area of meadow grass provided a valuable habitat for birds and invertebrates.

A Japanese themed garden, made from recycled materials, including bridges, stone lanterns, gravel and cobbles, was praised for being entirely believable. The judges did however note that although the plants had a long way to go before they assumed their correct proportions, the scene setting was delivered with considerable skill.

The important role gardening plays in the rehabilitation of offenders was outlined by HMP Whatton governor Lynn Saunders who said: "Whatton staff and prisoners are delighted to be winners of the 2015 Windlesham Trophy competition.

"As a specialist treatment site it is important for us to create a pleasant and calming environment for our staff to work, and our prisoners to live in. This is an important factor in our rehabilitative culture and our overarching objective to ‘Prevent another Victim’.

"I am pleased that the judges have recognised the hard work, commitment and achievement of the gardens team, both prisoners and staff, by this award."

HMP Whatton which houses vulnerable inmates, previously won the Windlesham Trophy in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2002, 2012 and 2013.

Horticulture trainers Robert Whitworth and Richard Heys received commendations.
Their commendations read: "Robert Whitworth has worked at Styal for 27 years maintaining the grounds to a very high standard year on year. He has also been instrumental in the success over the last three years at the Tatton Flower Show in Styal winning two Silver Medals and a Silver Gilt. Richard Heys has transformed the learning and education of prisoners in horticulture in the last five years. He has been the lead in the last three years in Styal, winning two Silver medals and a Silver Gilt Medal at Tatton Flower Show. His enthusiasm for horticulture is infectious and inspirational."

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